Russia to award pilots concerned in US drone incident


MOSCOW — Russian fighter pilots concerned in an incident with a U.S. drone that resulted in its crash will probably be given state awards, the Defense Ministry introduced Friday. The transfer seems to sign Moscow’s intention to undertake a extra aggressive stance towards future U.S. surveillance flights.

The U.S. army stated it ditched the Air Force MQ-9 Reaper within the Black Sea on Tuesday after a pair of Russian fighter jets dumped gasoline on the surveillance drone after which one in every of them struck its propeller whereas it was flying in worldwide airspace. Moscow has denied that its warplanes hit the drone, alleging that it crashed whereas making a pointy maneuver. It stated that its plane reacted to a violation of a no-flight zone Russia has established within the space close to Crimea amid the combating in Ukraine.

On Friday, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu lauded the pilots for stopping the drone from flying into the realm that Moscow has banned for flights. The Defense Ministry emphasised that the ban was “in line with international norms.”

Moscow’s announcement comes a day after the U.S. army launched a declassified 42-second coloration footage displaying a Russian Su-27 fighter jet approaching the again of the U.S. drone and releasing gasoline because it passes in what seemed to be aimed toward blinding the drone’s optical devices to drive it from the realm.

On a second method, both the identical jet or one other Russian Su-27 that had been shadowing the MQ-9 struck the drone’s propeller, damaging a blade, in line with the U.S. army, which stated it then ditched the plane within the sea. The video excerpt doesn’t present the collision, though it does present the harm to the propeller.

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The prime U.S. and Russian protection and army leaders spoke Wednesday concerning the destruction of the drone within the first calls between them since October, underscoring the occasion’s seriousness.

While calling out Russia for “reckless” motion, the White House additionally tried to keep away from exacerbating tensions. U.S. officers emphasised that they haven’t been in a position to decide whether or not the Russian pilot deliberately struck the American drone and burdened that traces of communication with Moscow stay open.

Russian officers additionally emphasised the necessity to preserve traces of communication, however they harshly denounced the U.S. motion as smug disregard of Moscow’s no-flight zone.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council chaired by President Vladimir Putin, stated Friday that, “simply put, the Americans have become far too gross, and we shouldn’t be too polite with them.” He added on a extra cautious be aware that “of course, contacts between the military are necessary.”

Pro-Kremlin political analyst Sergei Markov pointed on the award for the pilots who buzzed the U.S. drone as “a clear sign that Russia will keep downing the American drones.”

“This decision will receive a strong support from the Russian society that wants the government to toughen its policy,” Markov wrote in a commentary.

Moscow has repeatedly voiced concern about U.S. intelligence flights near Crimea, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014 amid robust worldwide condemnation. The Kremlin has charged the U.S. and its allies of successfully turning into engaged within the battle by offering weapons and sharing intelligence with Kyiv.

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Some Russian officers charged that the U.S. surveillance flights helped collect intelligence that allowed Ukraine to strike Russian targets.

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